Thursday, October 31, 2013

Deep Strike the Right Way

Fly back to continue a discuss about alternative deployment that can be found here.
I plan on getting a little more in depth into one of the alternative modes: Deep Strike.
And I love Deep Strike. It is A-Mazing.

Deep Strike gives a unit and your army multiple benefits:

1. It keeps your models safe from enemy effects/attacks prior to being in effective range.
My good buddy recently quipped "I feel like that when I used a deep strike heavy army, that my models aren't doing anything until my deep strikers arrive." Oh so true. But that logic is somewhat of a fallacy anyways, when referring to the effectiveness of deep striking. Compare using guys like Sternguard Veterans with a drop pod and Sternguard Veterans without a drop pod. Are your Sternguard in EITHER case going to be doing anything turn 1? Obviously, the dudes in the pod will be doing nothing. Not so obviously, the dudes without the pod will be doing something: GETTING SHOT! They can deploy to avoid getting shot, but then they probably aren't doing any shooting either. And with pre-measure in, an average opponent will stay out of 30" on turn one so they won't take any goofy Stern-ammunition-rounds. So, a Sternguard can, you know, walk. He can walk 6" and still shoot once or walk 6" and run d6" and not shoot. Hrmmm, again, probably not that effective on turn 2 either. On turn 2, the Sternguard in a pod land wherever you want, and BOOM, major impact at full force. Combi-weapons unloading. Vehicles exploding. Guys frying. Xenos BURNING!

2. It allows you to deploy your model in the most effective place at the current time.
The battlefield is an ever changing place. Places that seemed safe turn 1 are now teeming with enemies. Places that looked like seething hot-spots of activities on turn 1 are now dust bowls complete with tumble weeds. I experience this when I play with my Great Unlcean One. He starts walking a certain direction near the beginning of the game and usually the sea parts around him. He just controls areas of the board. He just isn't fast enough to ever get to that hot-spot of activity.
Deep strike allows it so that you never have to commit until you put the model on the board. That is awesome. They will be right where you want them at this exact moment.

3. It increases your chances of scoring primary and secondary objectives
This is a huge one that I feel is overlooked by less experienced players. If you're playing book missions, or some variation of them, you can generally expect what type of goals need to be met to win the game. The three standard secondary objectives are Slay the Warlord, Line Breaker and First Blood. Deep strike has a direct effect on each of these three, Warlord being my favorite. You can make a deep strike assassination squad made specifically for killing Warlords. Land so he's the closest model (if he's in a unit), and unload with your plasma or plasma equivalent. Bonus points if they are Deathmarks. Line Breaker is self explanatory. If First Blood is in play on your turn 2, your deep strikers just found a new mission: land near the unit that they are most likely to kill in your turn. Got flamers? Land next to those Kroot! See ya Kroot! As an added bonus, you have less stuff out early to be targeted for First Blood.
I also firmly believe Deep Strike is among the only ways to have a chance at actually WINNING Emperor's Will, as opposed to focusing on secondary objectives.

4. It makes your opponents play differently
... and sometimes silly different. Sure deep strikers can be scary, but I've seen the threat of a single drop pod of Grey Hunters in reserve sway a player to castle up and start playing for the tie. Altering their game plan has all sorts of added perks that you can likely exploit, whether it's spreading out infantry to increase your chances of mishap, or moving scary vehicles into back corners to protect their rear arcs. If you didn't have a deep strike threat, they wouldn't make these alterations that you could eventually take advantage of.

5. It lets you keep your options open
Not committal of important units until you have the best information possible. I feel like someone wrote about that in some Art of War book. I think you can get it on I-pod.
Holding back your units to apply deadly force is something you want the option of doing. "Blowing your load early" is a problem that many young men face: don't let it be you. Being able to land a unit that was made for something entirely different (your melta- wielding terminators) to handle a task that needs to be done (protecting your last scoring unit from some out-flanking Genestealers) may be necessary.

How to do it! My good buddy Snarl of Disgust (James!) did some math in 2009 (presumably he's done more since then, I don't think it was a one time thing). He made this chart:
If charts give you a head ache, it explains a concept that is crucial to determining what is a "risky" deep strike: The DONUT OF DOOM! The idea that 7" is the most common roll on two dice. Knowing that, if you do roll an arrow, you're likely to be going around 7" in some random direction. Snarl applied this and came up with: If you want to deep strike somewhere, deep strike right next to your target. The 7" would likely shoot you over your target if you scattered right into them. But even then, the likelihood of scattering in that direction in general is low. You roll a hit 33% of the time, hence, don't scatter. When you do scatter, you're not likely to roll low numbers like 2, 3 or 4, or high numbers like 10, 11 and 12. You're likely to hit right around that 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
The riskiest deep strike would be aiming somewhere where there is enemy models and impassable/off the board in a complete 360 degree radius around you in that 7" zone. If you don't roll a hit there, it is HIGHLY likely you will scatter into something bad.
That leads us to the mishap table. Simply put, 5/6ths of the time, your unit doesn't die. That is just insane.
I look at it like this: the consequence of a failed deep strike is only that your unit doesn't do what its supposed to do that turn. That's it. 1/6th of the time, it dies. 5/6ths of the time, it does something else, like land somewhere else or come out next turn.

Next, lets figure out what makes a good deep striker! I figure that your deep striker should excel in an important facet of the game. It should be able to reliably kill tanks OR reliably kill scoring units OR reliably score objectives. I think if it isn't doing one of those three jobs, its not doing anything. But I don't think that you should be totally stuck into one of those slots. If you can do more than one, you have more options, which is better than having less.

Tanks: melta is still king. A meltagun in melta range explodes a vehicle on a little under 50% of hits without cover. 2d6 + 8 penetrates Land Raiders on average, so anything short of that is likely going down with 3 or more melta hits. Melta isn't the only option, you could still use many high strength attacks at rear armor too.

Killing Scoring: Top lists right now still run relatively weak scoring units. Fire Warriors, Kroot,  Guardians (albeit ones in Wave Serpents), Necron Warriors (albeit ones in flyers), Scouts, Plague Bearers ("weak" in some ways), Guardsmen and Cultists. Those units just aren't TOUGH. And most all of them go down to my favorite single weapon: The Flamer. Oh, the flamer. Most of those units depend on cover to stay alive after they've disembarked. Cover is useless. The goggles do nothing!
"But Fly, the range on a flamer template is short!" False! It is 8" from your unit's base. 8" is less than the average deep strike scatter, another reason to land right next to where you want to be and what you want to kill.
If you can drop next to some scoring unit huddled up to maximize cover, they are likely to be burninated by 1-3 flamers. Up the ante with BETTER versions of flamers, like Heavy Incinerators on deep striking Dreadknights or Burning Brands on our favorite Chaos Lords.
Scoring: Plaguebearers. Boom. I am scoring that objective and you have to shift my little gross gribblies. Deathwing. Boom. I am scoring that objective and you have to shift my 2+/5+ Terminators. Solodin. Boom. I am scoring that objective and you have to shift my single 2W 2+/5+ Terminator.
Being able to target an area of the board that turns you from 'losing' to 'winning' is what the game is about.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that is missing is that the deepstriking units of over 4 guys take up extra space. If for example you are deepstiking 7 warp spiders, they are going to have a footprint of a 5 inch circle (1 guy in middle, 6 guys in circle around him and a 1 inch bubble that has to be free of enemies.) Given this a 7 inch scatter directly over a single enemy on a 25mm base will allow deployment, however any deviation in angle or additional guys in the unit being scattered over will result in a mishap. Units that don't have to complete a circle gain some additional flexibility in this regard. as the guys can be deployed on one side of the circle if they hit or on the other side if they scatter